Sunday, 30 November 2008

London Scottish (Oh By the Way: Did we Mention Winning an Award?)

A Lion Rampant for St Andrew’s Day (pictured). This particular specimen adorns the Albert Hall where, on Thursday past, London Walks won the Gold Medal in the Best Tourism Experience category at the Visit London Awards.

Okay, it was a tenuous excuse to mention the award again. We’ll stop banging on about it now…

But only after you’ve clicked HERE for the official account of the night’s proceedings over at

Happy St Andrew’s Day!

THIS WEEK AHEAD ON LONDON WALKS BLOG… Sherlock Holmes… The Dead Centre of Hampstead… and Even More Whisky Galore!


Friday, 28 November 2008

And the Winner is…

This is a picture of Nick. Nick, as you can plainly see, is opening a bottle of champagne. Nick is opening a bottle of champagne at the Royal Albert Hall. Now, why would a man like Nick be doing such a thing? Is it because Nick is celebrating? Celebrating winning an award? An award such as the


perhaps? Well, if that was your guess then you’d be absolutely right.

It was a helluva night and, as much as I could bang on about how great it was here on the London Walks Blog, I really don’t want to steal David & Mary’s thunder. So get yourself over to the Mothership – that’s the GOLD MEDAL WINNING Mothership at– to read all about it.

If you get there and there’s no announcement up yet, then swing by later. David and Mary were last seen cuttin’ a rug into the wee small hours at the Albert Hall. And who could blame them?

Just one more thing: the pic that speaks a thousand words. That’s Mary below with the award.


Thursday, 27 November 2008

London List No. 5: Five London Yanks


Arguably the greatest of all 20th Century crime writers was educated at Dulwich College for Boys.
Naturalised British citizen from 1927 (Born St Louis MO 26th September 1888), the poet and dramatist worked in Russell Square for Faber & Faber and lived in Kensington
Born at Eltham in 1903, the fabled entertainer’s family upped-sticks for Cleveland Ohio in 1907. Hope often quipped: “I left England when I was four when I found out I couldn’t be king.”
One of the founding fathers of the United States lived at 36 Craven Street WC2 from 1757 – 1775. It remains his last surviving residence and, as the Benjamin Franklin House, has been open to the public since 2006.
“Suspect” in the Jack the Ripper ( case raised (and buried) in Rochester, NY. Was he Jack the Ripper? Why not ask the world’s leading Ripperologist Donald Rumbelow HERE ?

(The picture is ‘Allies Day May 1917’ by Frederick Childe Hassam, a Yank whose incessant travels brought him through both London and Paris on numerous occasions.)


Wednesday, 26 November 2008

London Walks Zodiac: Sagittarius

Revered stargazer St John Featherstonehaugh (pictured, right) holds the post of Life Grand Master at the Imperial & Ancient Society of Astrology, Horoscopes, Clairvoyancy & That. He writes exclusively for the London Walks Blog. You can email him at (Just don’t be surprised if his reply arrives before you've even hit the "send" button.)

LONDON SAGITTARIUS November 22nd – December 21st

SYMBOL: In Greek mythology, The Centaur (pictured below).


John Harvard (26th November 1607, in Southwark )
William Blake (28th November 1757, Golden Square )
John Milton (9th December 1608, Click Here and scroll down to 13th December for the J.M Special.)

PLUS… Noel the office dynamo, is also a Sagittarian and will be turning 38 this week… for the THIRD time. Ahem. He’ll be celebrating, o good and faithful servant, with his chums on a specially tailored Hampstead Walk

1154 On 19th December Henry II crowned at Westminster Abbey
1952 The Mousetrap, starring Richard Attenborough, opened at the Ambassadors Theatre on the 25th November. It remains the world’s longest running play.
1963 Doctor Who is first broadcast 23rd November. Yes, we know The Doctor comes from Gallifrey, but is a Londoner by virtue of the fact that his Tardis was first seen at 76 Trotter's Lane, Shoreditch. (Click Here to discover Shoreditch – scroll down to December 27th.)

NEXT MONTH: St John Featherstonehaugh reluctantly leaves his usual corner in Gordon’s Wine Bar for ten minutes to scribble a few lines on Capricorn London.

(Where did we get our blue centaur [above]? Go along on THIS WALK to find out.)


Tuesday, 25 November 2008

No Cats Were Harmed in the Making of This Walk

Richard III leads the Old Highgate Village Walk on Sundays. It has, in the past, been an incident-packed afternoon. Over to Richard:

“I was guiding in Old Highgate Village last year when I noticed a sign at the bottom of the hill at Jackson’s Lane offering a £50 reward for the return of a lost cat. When we got to the top of the hill, another sign. A second cat had been lost, but the reward here was £500. I told the group that property prices went up the higher up the hill you went and suggested that if someone was going to nick a cat they should do it at the top of the hill rather than the bottom.

“At which point I was assailed by a woman who insisted that I address the group withdrawing my remark which was ‘a disgraceful endorsement of cruelty’ and that I also desist from making more remarks about animals. As I had already promised my group that I would be telling them tales of a horse five thousand feet in the air, a chicken stuffed by Bacon, swearing loyalty to the village of Highgate on the horns of a live ox and chasing a pig, catching it by its tail and throwing it over your shoulder, I replied that I could not accede to her request. She then said that she was leaving and she would start a campaign in concert with animal welfare groups and would be sending people on my walk to record my inflammatory remarks.”

P.S. Above is a picture of Richard’s cat, Whisper. Whisper is not missing and therefore there is no reward for her return.


A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at

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Sunday, 23 November 2008

My Favourite London Walk No.3: Legal & Illegal

This is Karen on Legal & Illegal London

“In my experience with London Walks, there are usually two kinds of Walker. The first camp has much in common with the London Walks guide in that they love London and are eager to be impressed by her streets, sights and stories. They are often (although not exclusively) visitors. The second camp is made up of tougher nuts to crack. They are usually (although not exclusively) native Londoners. Whether a citizen born within earshot of Bow Bells, or long-term denizen, they are invariably heads down, straight ahead, no-nonsense customers. Suffice to say, s/he is difficult to impress.

Which is why Legal & Illegal London is my favourite London Walk. To see the face of even the most hardened Londonite light up upon discovering the secret world of the barrister – the Inns of Court – is the greatest sensation. Fragrant gardens, tranquil courtyards and hidden churches, it’s as if you have been transported to the hushed and hallowed quarters of some idyllic Oxford college. To see a dyed-in-the-wool Londoner rekindle their love for the city right before your eyes, or to see them discover such a ‘secret garden’ as this legal enclave, a secret that has been hiding right under their nose for years, merely doubles the thrill.”

P.S It’s Shaughan's favourite London Walk, too.


A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at

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Thursday, 20 November 2008

Blog Extra (or: I’m Ready For My Close Up)

We should have guessed. The fact that he was chomping on a cigar should have given us a clue. And the jodhpurs/jackboots combo with his name emblazoned on the back of his deckchair. But it wasn’t until he lifted the megaphone to his lips to make the following announcement that the penny finally dropped: David’s got the movie bug over at

“Hi gang. David here. We know how much you liked the London Walks promo on YouTube. And how do we know? Well more than 3000 of you have watched it so far, that’s how. So… with London Walks being in the business of giving the people what they want, we thought you’d like a sequel: London Walks The Movie II, if you like, featuring our Cambridge Explorer Day. Click HERE then under LATEST NEWS, look for the story headlined The Video. Enjoy.”

And with a yell of “Cut!” he was striding off again to direct a crowd scene in Parliament Square… or was that just him guiding his Thursday Westminster Walk ?

And now for another TRAILER: News of forthcoming London Walks films, promos and videos – including a special Jack the Ripper number and the best Ghost Walk in London – will appear on this Blog and over at The Mothership, .

For more details (dates, times, meeting place, etc) of the CAMBRIDGE EXPLORER DAYS, click HERE


Wednesday, 19 November 2008

My Favourite Walk No.2: Camden Town

An occasional series in which guides (and walkers) tell of their favourite London Walks.

A tourist mecca and gritty, "real" London at its best, Camden Town is all things to all men and women. Therefore it takes a true Camdenite to shed light on this unique quarter. Step forward local artist (and London Walks guide) Judith, who files this on her Favourite London Walk:

“Our Camden Town walk takes in the world famous Dingwalls and equally famous Stables Market with their labyrinthine byways and exotic stalls. These Lock Markets are steeped in the story of independent fashion. Early in the 1980's Wayne Hemmingway and his wife, Geraldine, started in a small way in Camden Town, co-founding the fashion label Red or Dead which they eventually sold for multi millions. In the market we see young designers immersed in stylish ‘alternative fashion’, hoping perhaps for the luck of Red or Dead. The main markets, which we tour extensively in this walk, were completely untouched by the spectacular fire in February 2008.”

Meet Judith every Saturday morning at Camden Town Underground Station. The walk starts at 11.00a.m.

COMING SOON on the London Walks Blog: Five London Yanks for Thanksgiving; even MORE Whisky Galore; and the London Walks Astrologer on Sagittarian London.


Tuesday, 18 November 2008

London Lists No.4: Five Dishes from the Top Table

Just in from Ann, London Walks’ epicurean insider:

“Never mind the politics and the diplomacy – the great question for foodies after grand banquets and royal celebrations is: what did they have to eat? I'll try to keep you up to date with this vitally important matter, and to start the ball rolling, this week’s London List is the menu for the Lord Mayor's Banquet, held last week at
Mansion House.…

Timbale of Beetroot with Strathdon Blue Cheese, Red Apples and
English Honey
Grilled Fillet of Lemon Sole, roasted Fennel and Juniper Berries, Hollandaise Sauce
London Sloe Gin and Tonic Sorbet
Fillet of The Castle of Mey Beef, Black Trumpet Mushroom Sauce, Dauphinoise Potatoes, Glazed Vegetables
Pineapple, Rhubarb Mousse and Blackberry and Apple Crumble”

Ann adds: “You can buy Strathdon Blue at Neal's Yard Dairy (Covent Garden and Borough Market – it comes from Scotland, like the beef. Happy eating!”

And of course she extends a warm invitation for you to come and join her on her new walk – Foodies London: The West End
– this Saturday, meeting at Green Park Underground Station (The Ritz exit) at 2.30p.m.

TOMORROW: Judith on her favourite London Walk – Camden Town


Monday, 17 November 2008

Greenwich Screen Time

This from Richard III:

"If you are watching Little Dorrit on the television you will see a lot of Greenwich. While guiding there last year we walked into an entire set of gardens and stone walls that the group thought were real, but I knew they were polystyrene (or some such material) because they hadn’t been there three days before. It was very convincing. Greenwich is the perfect place to film because you can do so many different location shoots in one place, choosing the four different wings of the Royal Naval college for four different locations. Then you can nip in to Greenwich Park instead of relocating to the countryside. Dickens himself frequented the Trafalgar Tavern, watching the tide of the Thames rise up the wall towards the windows as he ate and drank."

Richard III will meet you at Tower Hill on Thursday 20th at 10.45 and take you on the boat to Greenwich .

(Our picture is from the current BBC Little Dorrit, next episode Wednesday 19th at 8.00 p.m on BBC1. The DVD – released January 26th 2009 – is available to pre-order at the BBC Shop at


Sunday, 16 November 2008

London Up Close No.2

As promised in our earlier London A – Z feature (see Archive, right), he-e-e-e-e-ere’s Archie! The ornamental archer that adorns East Finchley tube station on the Northern Line points the way to Morden via what was once the longest underground railway tunnel in the world. (Even now, at 17.2 miles/27.8 Km and more than 60 years after its completion, it remains the world’s 5th longest.)

COMING UP THIS WEEK on the London Walks Blog: Richard III takes us star-spotting in Greenwich; Judith sings the praises of Camden Town; and it’s that Ann again! Ann Jones goes Up West with another of her foodie extravaganzas (see front page of the Mothership at for mouthwatering details).


Saturday, 15 November 2008

A Policeman's Lot is Not an 'Appy One ('Appy One)

This from Adam, just returned from guiding our famous Jack the Ripper walk through the mean streets of White-chapel:

Former Magnum P.I star Tom Selleck (on the left in our picture) teams up with celebrity pal David Walliams in all his ‘I’m-a-Lady’ finery for tonight’s Jack the Ripper Walk. Sherlock Holmes remains unimpressed at our Illustrious Clients. (Thanks to the group of fancy dressers – our London Bobby, Sherlock and delightful cross-dresser were accompanied by assorted doxies, proper-gents-and-no-mistake and shady East End characters – whose unorthodox birthday celebrations so enlivened our walk.)


A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at

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London Walks A – Z

Because you never know when this kinda stuff’s gonna come in handy…

A is for… The ornamental ARCHER adorning East Finchley Station, designed in the ART DECO style by Eric AUMONIER. His bow is made of ASH coated with copper and gilt and he has fired his ARROW in the direction of ARCHWAY. The figure’s nickname? ARCHIE, of course. (See Archie in person when he stars in our next London Up Close feature.)

A is also for APPARITIONS, ALLEYWAYS & ALE, the ghost walk guided by Graham (Mondays) and Russell (Thursdays) from Embankment Station at 7.30 p.m.


Thursday, 13 November 2008

London Lists No.3: Fezziwig's Party

The five items on the menu at Old Fezziwig’s Christmas Party in A Christmas Carol

1. Cake
2. Negus* (see note below)
3. A great piece of Cold Boiled
4. A great piece of Cold Roast
5. Mince pies
(NB: This list does not include beer, the quantity of which Dickens simply lists as “plenty of”; nor does it take into account the pot of porter supplied at the request of the energetic fiddler who, after playing a particularly wild tune, liked to plunge his overheated face into the cooling ale.)

* Negus is a drink of the mulled wine family with port as its central alcoholic ingredient (often mixed with claret). This is hooch with a serious literary pedigree. Not only does it cheer up the proceedings of Christmas Past in London’s greatest ghost story, but also crops up in the pages of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, John Galsworthy’s The Forsyte Saga, and on numerous occasions in the jottings of the ever-thirsty James Boswell.

Ann Jones’s Epicurean, Gourmets’ & Foodies’ London sets off this Saturday 15th November from Monument Tube. Want to join her? Click HERE.


Tuesday, 11 November 2008

London Walks Reading List No.2

Vanity Fair by
William Makepeace Thackeray (1848)

William Makepeace Thackeray’s masterpiece has been compared to Tolstoy in its ambitious scope. And ambition fires the book’s anti-heroine: the thrusting Becky Sharp. If Thackeray hasn’t written the greatest English novel of all, then he has surely created the nastiest piece of work in the canon in Miss Sharp. Her scramble up the greasy pole of wealth and celebrity makes the soap divas of the 1980’s look like so many maiden aunts at the proverbial vicarage tea party. Second best character? London herself, from Chiswick to Russell Square, the capital of the early 19th Century is portrayed in memorable detail.

(The edition pictured is the special Penguin 60th Anniversary edition of 2006

Visit Thackeray Street on the Kensington Walk and Russell Square on the Old University Quarter Walk.